In lieu of hiring professional models, J. Crew casted 64 "real people" for its recent New York Fashion Week presentation. And while there were men and women of all different ages and ethnicities, the brand seemed to leave out a substantial population — that of "real" plus-sized individuals."We were inspired by the real people who wear J. Crew," Somsack Sikhounmuong, the brand's head of women's design, said on Instagram. "People in the office, friends, family, who all bring the clothes to life through their own personal style." This issue isn't so much with the fact that J. Crew wasn't body inclusive — after all, many NYFW shows and presentations continue to only employ straight-sized models, but, instead, with its use of the word "real."
On its website, J. Crew sells some of its women's items in sizes up to a 20, meaning there are an assortment of people who do in fact wear the brand, that don't fall under J. Crew's seeming definition of "real."
The term "real women" has often been used to differentiate between models and non-models in advertising and editorials. Take this one incident, for example, that led to headlines like "Meet the 'Real People' Modeling for J. Crew" and "J. Crew's Presentation Cast Real People." But, not every "real" person, like say transgender men and women or those that are differently-abled, can see themselves in the people that were chosen to pose in Sunday's presentation.
Like any other brand, J. Crew doesn't have an obligation to be inclusive. While the brand did manage to check off some diversity boxes with its NYFW presentation, it probably shouldn't use a term that implies anyone outside of this selected group — one that already feels largely left out within the fashion industry — is abnormal or less than "real."
As Mic wrote in March, it's time to ditch the phrase "real people" because models and non-models, whether skinny, curvy, black or white, are simply just people.
Mic has reached out to J. Crew for comment.